The British man who designed the iPhone, iPod and Mac is leaving Apple after more than 20 years – saying it is a “natural” time to go.
Chief design officer Sir Jonathan Ive – known widely as Jony Ive – will leave the company to start his own design firm, Apple said.
But he will not cut his ties with the technology giant completely, as his new company will count Apple among its clients.
Sir Jonathan told the Financial Times: “While I will not be an (Apple) employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come.
“This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change.”
“There are products that we have been working on for a number of years,” he said, of his ongoing work at Apple.
“I’m beyond excited that I get to continue working on those, and there are some new projects as well that I’ll get to develop and contribute to.”
Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook described Sir Jonathan’s designs as “groundbreaking”.
“Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998’s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care,” he said.
“Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built.
“After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.”
Sir Jonathan, originally from Chingford, north-east London, joined Apple in 1992 and is known for shaping Apple’s signature rounded, stylish designs.
He added: “After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer.
“Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history.”
Sir Jonathan was knighted in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2012.
He studied design at Newcastle Polytechnic – now Northumbria University.
He will not be immediately replaced and two of his deputies will report directly to the company’s chief operating officer, Jeff Williams.
An exact date for his departure has not been given.